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New Jersey service dog receives diploma alongside owner

While graduating from college is certainly an achievement of its very own, there was something extra special at Seton Hall University’s commencement. On Monday, a happy service dog proudly accompanied his owner at her graduation ceremony at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Moments later, the service dog received his very own diploma.

A service dog is now a proud university graduate

A viral video clip from Seton Hall captured the moment Grace Mariani, a resident of Mahwah, New Jersey, came forward to receive her diploma. Mariani, who uses a wheelchair, smiled proudly as Justin the service dog bounced happily alongside. In the video, Seton Hall University’s President Joseph E. Nyre rewards the pup with a rolled-up certificate. At first, Justin sniffs with curiosity. While the honorary diploma may not be a bone, it certainly is a treat.

Justin carefully grabs the honorary diploma with his mouth, wagging his tail happily. The crowd erupts with cheers as Nyre enthusiastically pumps his fist into the air. In a touching moment, Justin looks to Mariani who erupts with laughter. The dynamic duo then received congratulations from other members of the faculty. Mariani shakes hands with the faculty, while Justin proudly carries his degree.

NJ.com reported that the six-year-old New Jersey service dog accompanied Mariani to every college class. The loyal canine companion stayed by her side as she pursued her degree course in elementary and special education. Justin’s efforts certainly did not go unnoticed from students and faculty. As the video circulated, the pair soon gathered widespread adoration. Social media sites and news outlets circulated the clip, with fans sharing congratulations. But for those present, the moment was certainly remarkable.

Mariani earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and graduated magna cum laude. She plans to teach elementary and special education with Justin by her side.

Service dogs play an important role in the lives of people with disabilities. You can read more stories about the bond between service dogs and their human companions here.


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